Here’s a story from my collection, Ten With a Flag and Other Playthings for you on this Friday evening. If you enjoy, you might want to pick up the book, available in trade paperback and electronic format!
Ma, Gin and Bug-Eyes Aliens
Joseph Paul Haines
Don’t remember much of the day, now that I try to recollect it. Certain things stick out, mind you, like Ma with that shotgun slung up under her fat old titties or Earl with his coveralls buttoned up on both sides like he was goin’ into town for a mixer at Reverend Bob’s or somthin’.
And yeah, that flyin’ saucer made an impression too, that’s for sure.
You know, I would’a probably just napped right through it had it not been for Earl. Hell, we’d all been hearing strange noises for days and tell the truth I’d jus tgrown tired of it. It wasn’t nothing really annoying once you got used to it. Sorta like a warblin’ sound, like one of them English fire engines on the public television station, but not quite so strong; kinda sick like if you ken my meanin’. I’d just gotten tired of it and figgered it was a buncha dumb kids playin’ with a five-n- dime rocket set or a twirly-cone noise-maker or somethin’.
But Earl didn’t believe it, I can tell you that. He didn’t speak much, but whenever I’d dismiss the noise he’d shake his head and smile at me like he was expectin’ something big; like a rich kid come Christmas, you know?
And Ma? Hell, she was pert near convinced that I was makin’ the noises my own self so as to go off and investigate with Earl and a bottle of gin.
Not that a soul didn’t need a little gin now and then to get past livin’withMa. I loved her dearly, but that woman could be powerful nasty when she got a mind to it, which was most’n every day, if the truth be told and God be listen’n.
But Earl, now Earl knew something big was happenin’ and I’d be lyin’ if I didn’t admit to a smidgen of trepidation, but when Earl woke’d me up from my rockin’ chair that day with his K-Mart slingshot in one hand and a handful of steelies in the other I thought he’d gone on a bender and left me two quarts behind.
But Earl’s a big boy, you see. And well, I never did grow much past being able to get my feet to touch the outhouse floor while I was doin’ my business so I just played along with him.
My mistake was goin’ inside for my flannel.
I just about had my second arm slipped through when Ma walked in on me, that big ol’ Gallopin’ Gourmet apron running down the front of her body like a fancy, four-foot necktie.
“Where’n you think you’re goin’?” She asked. From the look on her face I knew I’d better make it good.
“Well woman, ” I said, “if it’s any concern of yours, old Earl thinks he saw something fall outta the sky out past the old silver mine.”
Her eyebrows raised like two caterpillars trying to escape the sweat pourin’ down her forehead. “Outta the sky?”
I prepared myself for an ass whoopin’.
“You know, I heard about those things on the radio,” she said. “Art Bell talks about ‘em all the time.”
I think my mouth hung open at this point. “I’m goin’ with ya’ll,” she said and started untying her apron. “Oh, uh-uh woman,” I said. “Might be dangerous.” I didn’t believe anything of the sort, mind you, I was just lookin’ forward to a little time away from house with a quart of Earl’s best homemade gin and if Ma came along, this would just turn into a long walk for no good reason. “You’d better stay–”
Ma ended that argument like she ended most of them. It’s amazing how the sound of twin-barrels being fed with buckshot will pretty much convince a soul of anything.
Earl gave me this look when we got out on the porch, but it didn’t take him long to catch the fire in Ma’s eye. We decided to leave the old Ford and hike on out the mile, mile and a half to the old mine so as not to scare anything away. Hell, if nothin’ else we might be able to scrounge up some rabbit or somethin’ so the trip wouldn’t be a complete waste.
Well, the sun was going down and the mine was to the west so our eyes got filled with that late evenin’ Kentucky sunset. I was enjoyin’ it really. Nothing quite like that big old ball of orange fire goin’ down over the treeline that really puts one in a drinkin’ kinda mood. Earl and me fell behind Ma a little bit and passed his flask back and forth. I took a long pull and like always when you was drinkin’ Earl’s finest, you had to do your damned best not to cough the stuff right back up.
So I was a little occupied, mind you, when the flyin’ saucer buzzed outta nowhere and hovered directly above us.
I gotta say, there wasn’t nothing special about it, beyond it violatin’ every natural law that I knew of. It looked like any of them flyin’ saucers you’d see on teevee or at the movies. It was big and silver and lit up with all sorts of different colored lights and all-in-all it looked like one of them aloo-min-ee-um Christmas trees you see in rich folks homes.
Well Ma had the good sense not to start shootin’ at it right away, and Earl just stared up with his mouth hung open like a butterfly net or something. We was all a little disconcerted is the best way to put it, I guess.
I mean, when you’re facing overwhelming odds like that, you just be still and hope they don’t notice you.
Well, turns out there weren’t much hope for that, as outta nowhere five of these little grey men just appears in front of us. They had them funny oversized heads and they were skinnier than a Nashville whore, but Billy Barty sized; short-like.
They looked right into our eyes, and my vision blurred slightly, like as if I was staring through waves of heat off the desert floor. I blinked a couple of times and cleared my head. “Whaddayall want?” I asked.
Them little fellas stepped back, like they was surprised or something. One of ‘em pointed his finger at me and everything went all wavy again.
I blinked a couple of times and everything cleared up. “Now you fellas need to stop that,” I said. “How do you expect us to hold a civilized conversation if you keep doin’ stuff like that?”
I think they were surprised. They kept looking at each other and seemed as if they were all-of-a-sudden as scared of us as we were of them.
That’s when I noticed Ma drop the shotgun and start lumberin’ all Frankenstein like toward them little fellas. Earl and I just looked at each other in disbelief. Ma didn’t take to strangers generally as a rule, but it looked like she wasn’t in full control of her senses.
I guess Earl and my brain was too messed up on gin already for them little fellas to take control of us. Well ,as much as I complain about Ma, I do love her in my own way and I wasn’t letting no little pecker-less gray aliens have their way with her. I jumped in front of Ma and crossed my arms. “Uh-uh,” I said. “You just leave’n her alone, now. We don’t want no trouble with you guys. If you need to use a phone, there’s one over by the freeway Texaco station and–”
Either she comes with us or you do. One of them fellas said. I didn’t see his pouty little mouth move or nothin’, but I heard it all the same.
Well, when push comes to shove I’m not much of a pusher or a shover. One of them little fellas had what looked like a gun or somethin’ in his hand. “Well allrighty then, fellas,”I said.“Just bring her back when you’re done!”
And then they was gone. Them little fellas, the ship and Ma. Just gone, like that. And just as quickly they was back. They was shovin’ Ma away like they didn’t want nothin’ to do with her all-of-a-sudden like, and Ma was weepin’. That’s not something I was used to, that’s for sure. Ma kept trying to grab onto one of them little fellas, saying stuff like, “No, don’t leave me here! Take me with you!”
But them little fellas wasn’t having nothin’ doing. They was quick little fuckers, I’ll tell you that. Everytime Ma reached out for one of ‘em, it was like them big old eyes of theirs doubled in size again. They got their distance from Ma and then they up and vanished again.
Ma was all crumpled up on the ground and a’cryin’ like a little baby. When she finally got hold of herself, she said, “They done things to me.”
I felt a little horror at that in the pit of my stomach. Poor Ma, I thought. What did those nasty little fellas do–
“And I liked it,” she said. “A lot.” There was this far off, dreamy look in her eyes that I had never seen before.
Well, we finally got Ma to pull herself together enough to get home. But she ain’t never been quite the same since. She bought herself one of them Ham radio sets and taught herself that code thingee and she sits around half the night broadcasting to them aliens to come pick her back up.
The other half of the night, she’d climb up on the roof and lie there naked, waiting.
So I’m guessing there’s a moral in here somewhere. You gotta look at things the best you can when they come along and try to learn whatever there is to learn.
I think I’ve broken it down to two important things:
One, homemade Gin may be what saves us from the impending alien invasion.
Two? Well, I guess that’d have to be that there are certain things that can scare even an advanced society.
Don’t think we’ll be having too many more problems with them aliens, though.
In spite of what Ma might want.